World's 2nd-richest man buys Detroit building

Louis Aguilar
The Detroit News
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A Mexican businessman whose international empire is worth an estimated $76.2 billion has bought a nearly empty building in Detroit.

The property: the Marquette Building, a 10-story structure at the corner of West Congress Street and Washington. It may be best known for having an Office of Michigan Secretary of State on its ground floor that closed a few years ago.

The buyer: an entity linked to Carlos Slim Helu, a magnate who is on the Forbes 2015 list of world's wealthiest people. Slim is worth $2.3 billion less than Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, the richest man on the planet, according to Forbes.

No word on what Slim has planned and this appears to be his first real estate purchase in Detroit, according to public records and two commercial real estate analysts. The Marquette was bought late last year for $5.7 million by a limited liability company whose Mexico City address is the headquarters of Grupo Financiero Inbursa, the financial group controlled by Slim, according to public records. Crain's Detroit Business reported a New York property research firm identifies an executive in one of Slim's companies as the buyer of the Detroit building.

The Marquette is all but vacant — less than 1 percent is currently occupied, according to CoStar, a commercial real estate database. The building has 162,780 square feet to offer.

The Marquette was once owned by 400 Monroe Associates, run by members of the Gatzaros family The Gatzaros family has been involved in downtown development for more than three decades. Other properties controlled by the Gatzaros family include the London Chop House, the Pegasus Taverna and Fishbone's Rhythm Kitchen Cafe. The latter two restaurants are located in Greektown. According to a company website, the Gatzaros' firm saved the Marquette building from demolition in 1979 and oversaw its redevelopment. They could not be reached for comment Monday.

Slim's fortunes comes from a wide range of investments in real estate, communications, media, and finance. He has controlling interest in in América Móvil, the largest mobile phone network in the Americas. In 2014, he became the largest shareholder of The New York Times, with a nearly 17 percent stake. Slim also holds a controlling interest in industrial conglomerate Grupo Carso, financial venture Grupo Financiero Inbursa and infrastructure development and operating company Ideal, according to Forbes.

Twitter: LouisAguilar_DN

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